Noah Syndergaard's vaunted slider abandoned him for most of the 2019 season, with him unable to generate the movement and velocity that made the pitch one of the best weapons in baseball from 2016 to 2018.
Whether it was due to the new ball (with lower seams and a slicker feel that hampered certain pitchers), something mental, or a combination of things, Syndergaard's slider in 2019 was mostly bad -- averaging 89.1 mph after averaging 92.0 mph the year prior.
Speaking Tuesday at Mets camp, Syndergaard said his nasty slider seems to be back.
"I feel like the start of last season kind of showed glimpses of what it was in the past. ... I think there were a couple in the 93 (mph) range, so that was encouraging to end the season on," Syndergaard said. "There's been a few mound sessions (in spring training) where I've started implementing the slider, and it seems to be back to where it was in previous years."
If the slider is indeed back, it could go a long way toward helping Syndergaard rebound from his relatively down 2019 (4.28 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 1.23 WHIP in 197.2 innings) and once again dominate.
"I think last year where I struggled was a little bit of paralysis by analysis," he explained. "Thinking a little too much, making things a lot more difficult than they should be."
Part of Syndergaard's "paralysis by analysis" last season might have been his concern about throwing to Wilson Ramos, who was not great when it came to framing pitches in the lower third of the strike zone -- where Syndergaard lives most of the time.
But despite Rene Rivera (Syndergaard's favorite catcher to throw to) being in camp and being an option as the backup catcher, Syndergaard will be paired with Ramos in spring training, Mets manager Luis Rojas said Tuesday.
"They're gonna work together," Rojas said. "They're gonna work in collaboration. Talking to Wilson and how he's committed to the pitching staff and his relationship with the pitching staff, that's something that -- not only for (Syndergaard) but for everybody -- he's got homework for himself to go ahead and keep developing the relationship."
For his part, Syndergaard is "pumped" to play for Rojas.
"I'm extremely pumped and excited to have Luis as our manager," he said. "He's a guy that has a winning pedigree throughout the minor leagues -- I think two championships in Savannah and one in Binghamton. So he's a guy that knows how to win, that knows how to reach the ultimate goal. And that's winning a championship. We're all excited for it."